A leading local law firm has hailed a landmark legal ruling today as good news for anyone with a specific beneficiary when making their will.
Doncaster-based law firm, hlw Keeble Hawson, has commented on the Supreme Court that has reversed earlier court decisions awarding a woman a third of her mother’s estate despite being cut out of her will.
Judgement means that family members don’t automatically take precedence over a named beneficiary, such as a charity or local good cause.
Heather Ilott was successful in her application for “reasonable financial provision” under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 after Melita Jackson left most of her £486,000 estate to animal charities.
Mrs Ilott, from Hertfordshire, was originally awarded £50,000, which was later more than tripled to £160,000 by the Court of Appeal. The animal charities challenged that ruling and it has now been agreed she should receive only the original £50,000.
Kelly Wharin, of hlw Keeble Hawson’s contentious probate team said: “The new decision signals that, in principle, being a mere blood relation does not carry sufficient weight for the courts to interfere with a Testator’s last wishes unless the deceased maintained them in some way. It is interesting to note, though, that in this case the daughter was not being maintained by her mother but was on benefits.
“This may suggest that the courts could look at the financial circumstances of claimants, especially if they are being supported by the State and there are clearly sufficient funds in an estate to provide for them.”
With offices in Doncaster, Sheffield and Leeds, hlw Keeble Hawson is one of the region’s biggest law firms.